Sunday, June 7, 2015

Day-After Report: DHMN Civic Hackathon/Appleton 2015

So below is a list of things I think people were working on during the DHMN Civic Hackathon/Appleton 2015 on June 6, 2015, in the Warch Campus Center of Lawrence University.

Mike Putnam working on "Is It Recycling Week?"
I'll update this post with corrections and additional information as I get it from event participants, a.k.a. the civic hackers of NE Wisconsin. Because there were thirty to forty people working on different projects during the day, I didn't get a chance to find out what everyone was working on, so if you were working on a project not listed below, or know of a project someone else was working on, please email me that info to add to this post. A few photos from the event are included throughout the post.
  1. Mike Putnam's AppletonAPI ecosystem. It was really cool to see the ecosystem that formed around Mike Putnam's AppletonAPI civic hack, which emerged from him meeting Greg Tracy and learning about SMSMyBus, Greg's civic hack. Mike worked on both AppletonAPI and on "Is It Recycling Week?" (IIRW), an Android app that tells you whether you should put out your recycle bin for pickup this week and when the next pickup is. A couple people, Matt and Dan, I think, worked with Mike to improve his Appleton civic hacks.
  2. IIRW Pebble App. The Pebble is a smartwatch owned by a couple of the hackathon participants. Ross Larson created an IIRW app for his Pebble watch during the June 6 event. Leveraging Mike Putnam's open source code, Ross built an app, 47 lines I think he said, to tell him when the next recycle day is for him.
  3. Website for Kaukauna version of AppletonAPI. I think Chris Jaure, who lives in Kaukauna, decided to build sort of a website version of Mike P's hack that's customized to show Kaukauna resident information.
  4. Oshkosh version of AppletonAPI. Christian Long, in addition to other work he did during the hackathon, began working on an Oshkosh version of Mike's AppletonAPI.
  5. Municipal API directory. Mike Rosack, after hearing about Mike's AppletonAPI, decided to
    Ross Larson working on Pebble app
    start working on sort of a programmatic catalog or directory of contracts to which municipal APIs can adhere.
  6. Appleton crime data. Zach Gohr worked on some aspects of Mike P's hacks. I don't know if the Appleton crime data work did was related to Mike's AppletonAPI, or if that was an additional stand-alone project. Zach worked with Karen Harkness on this, and she mentioned that Kyle Lobner and Vered Meltzer might be good city people to work with if interested in doing more with Appleton crime data.
  7. Flash flood GIS info. Mamadou Coulibaly, Aniko Polo-Akpisso, Eric Schultz (and maybe a couple others) worked on figuring out a system to geolocate using just texting. The use case for this work is African locations where the predominant type of cell phone is a basic dumb phone that can text but doesn't do web or have GPS.
  8. Railroad crossing noise. David Kieffer, Michael Kieffer and Kim Hottenstine worked on potential civic hacking of railroad crossing noise issues. One point of discussion was the value of a tech approach (using noise sensors) vs a social approach (connect and mobilize Appleton residents who feel trains make more noise at crossings than is needed) for addressing excessive railroad crossing noise.
  9. Voting civic hack. David Kieffer dug into voting information hacks. One of the main ones that was discussed was the Voting Information Project (VIP). One of the challenges for an app like VIP is that you can't easily verify right now that it works for Appleton because there's no imminent election and, therefore, no Appleton election data to confirm whether or not it can be displayed by VIP.
  10. Bus data hacking. Mark Nickel worked on taking bus data from the Appleton GTFS open data
    Chris, Eric and Tami -- various projects
    set (General Transit Feed Specification) and putting it into a PostgreSQL / PostGIS format. One of the goals is easily finding the bus stop nearest to where you are or nearest to an address or lat-long location you enter into the app.
  11. Python advice, tips and tricks. Christian L, in addition to other project work, share basics, tips, tricks and tools of the Python programming language with a few civic hackers. Christian happens to be the leader of FoxPUG, the area's Python users group. If you're interested in Python, check out FoxPUG.
  12. Non-coding discussion about civic hacks. One group of civic hackers had a discussion session about projects they think would have value. Those projects included (1) an Internet / smartphone tool to identify most common or most important citizens annoyances, complaints, problems, interests and apparent opportunities for a city, (2) discovering what valuable or interesting data Appleton has that residents aren't aware of, and having the city of Appleton create a new webpage listing data the city collects or generates that might be of high value to civic hackers, (3) a technology tool to offer another way to reduce drunk driving, possibly something involving ride-sharing with others nearby using Yik Yak type technology, and (4) a parking app that would show what types of parking are available near a location you are at or
    Mike Rosack -- Muni API directory
    headed for.
  13. Nick Olesen was working for most of the day, but I'm not sure what project(s) he was doing. He said he'd either write a guest post for this blog or at least send me a write up of what he worked on.
  14. I think Mike P and Ross introduced a few people to Slack and GitHub; #dhmncivichacks on the NE Wisconsin Slack channel seemed like it was pretty well utilized during the hackathon.
One last civic hack comment. In his kickoff talk for yesterday's hackathon, Mayor Hanna of Appleton mentioned the city is doing some website rebuilding and that it can be challenging for a resident to find the info they're looking for on the website. In the video "Why Good Hackers Make Good Citizens" that we watched at the start of the hackathon, Catherine Bracy of Code for America talked about Honolulu Answers and Oakland Answers civic hacks that addressed the issue of it being hard for residents of those cities to find the information they wanted on the city websites. Mike P and a couple other participants mentioned that they might be interested in creating an Appleton Answers version of the Honolulu and Oakland hacks. A future blog post will talk about one way something like that might be pulled off.

Apologies to all the other people who participated in the hackathon but aren't mentioned by name here. If you send me an email, bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com, with a description of what you worked on, it would be great to update this post with that info. Or if you're really passionate about the project on which you're working, write up a guest post, and I'll put it on the blog.

Thanks to everyone who participated in and supported the DHMN Civic Hackathon/Appleton 2015!


No comments:

Post a Comment